PORTLAND, Maine — A former Portland police officer who pleaded guilty in 2015 to embezzling more than $500,000 from a credit union set up for his fellow officers was sentenced in federal court Monday to a year and a day in prison and ordered to repay the entire sum.
John Barry, 69, served for nearly three decades as an officer on the city force before becoming a manager of the Portland Police Department Federal Credit Union, which manages money for city police officers as well as officers of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department.
Between 2009 and 2013, Barry embezzled $533,791 from the credit union, funneling the money to his family members and into his own bank account, and falsified financial records to cover the theft, according to court documents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark said in court that the credit union’s total assets were about $800,000 during the period when Barry was embezzling, and that the theft over five years of a sum equal to more than 60 percent of the fund’s total worth had forced the Portland credit union to be sold to larger nationwide credit union.
The credit union’s assets were insured, and Clark did not call any victims of Barry’s theft to testify at the sentencing hearing. But he said that Barry earned $114,000 each year when he was working for the credit union and asked “the court to send this banker to jail.”
“He stole from his fellow Portland Police Department employees … to support his comfortable lifestyle,” Clark told Chief District Court Judge Nancy Torresen.
The Portland Police Department did not respond to a request for comment on the sentencing.
According to Torresen, sentencing guidelines for Barry, a first-time offender, would suggest a punishment of 46 to 57 months, but Barry’s attorneys requested a more lenient sentence of house arrest, saying that their client is too ill to serve time in prison.
Barry requires a walker to move around and was only able to stand upon Torresen’s entrance into the courtroom with the support from attorneys Neale Duffett and Mark Dion. He suffers from a variety of maladies, including adult-onset diabetes and congestive heart failure, is on a raft of medications and cannot bathe or change his clothes without help, according to court documents.
During the hearing, Barry’s hand shook as he lifted a small wax-paper cup of water to his mouth.
In pleading for leniency, Duffett read a letter submitted to the court by one of his client’s physicians, which said, “I feel that incarceration would be a death sentence to Mr. Barry.”
A number of Barry’s family members also pleaded for leniency from the judge, saying he was a kind and loving parent and had been a good police officer. During her in-laws’ testimony, Margaret Barry, John Barry’s wife of 44 years, buried her face in her hands and clutched at the collar of her blue polka-dot shirt, but when her time to speak came, her voice was calm and measured.
“He’s deeply remorseful for the horrendous mistake he made,” Margaret Barry said.
In an effort to make right his wrong the couple had sold their home and were now living in a “retirement trailer,” she told the judge.
John Barry intended to pay $175,000 from the sale of the couple’s home in restitution immediately after the sentencing hearing, Duffett said.
Having weighed his infirmity and “spotless record” against the gravity of his crime, Torresen ruled that Barry must serve prison time but recommended he be placed in Federal Medical Center, Devens, a prison in Massachusetts. She further ruled that Barry would serve an additional five years of supervised release, after his term, and repay the sum he stole on a payment schedule.
“You were a police officer for many, many years. You swore to uphold the law and then you broke the law repeatedly,” Torresen said to Barry.
The judge ruled that Barry should be allowed to take himself to the prison, as Duffett had argued that the transportation provided by the federal prison system would endanger Barry’s health.
Neither of Barry’s attorney’s immediately responded to inquiries about whether he would appeal the ruling.
Upon hearing the sentence, Margaret Barry buried her face into the shoulder of one of her husband’s sisters, saying, “I can’t. I can’t.”
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